Simon said young men might be more vulnerable to the ups and downs of a romance because in many cases it's their sole source of intimacy, whereas "young women are more likely to have a variety of different types of close relationships."
It's also possible, she said, that societal changes have led today's generation of men to become more emotionally dependent on their girlfriends. "The young men in our study came of age at a very different historical time," said Simon. "These kids had working moms and their dads often depended on that salary, so they're more likely to view marriage as a partnership."
Another expert agreed with the notion that men may be more vulnerable because they don't have as many close, supportive relationships as women.
"In our marriage education workshops, I often hear men remark that their wives are their sole source of emotional support, and it is often the husbands that express the most gratitude for the support and encouragement of other husbands, and wives, in the group," said psychologist Laura E. Frame, supervisor of the Supporting Healthy Marriage Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Frame added that the findings support the idea that young people should be educated about how to establish and maintain healthy romantic partnerships. "These skills can be taught and practiced, and can go a long way in preventing or mitigating the consequences of relationship strain on mental health," she said.
The findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
For more on romantic relationships, go to the American Psychological Association.
SOURCES: Robin W. Simon, Ph.D., professor, sociology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Sa
All rights reserved